Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Member Pleads Guilty to Being a Habitual Domestic Abuser in Midst of Trial
Following Day of Testimony about Assault, Defendant Pleads Guilty
An enrolled member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to Domestic Assault by a Habitual Offender, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. MATTHEW TYLER CHARLES, 31, of Port Angeles, pleaded guilty following one day of testimony about his history of assaulting his intimate partner. CHARLES was indicted federally following the October 21, 2017 assault of a woman with whom he had a long-term relationship. CHARLES faces up to five years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton on June 15, 2018.
According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, in the early morning hours to October 21, 2017, the victim arrived at the Lower Elwha Casino. Shortly after her car pulled into the parking lot, the surveillance video shows CHARLES arriving in another vehicle. The video shows CHARLES assaulting the victim, violently shoving her back into the car and physically restraining her when she tried to flee. At one point during the incident, CHARLES brandished a knife. Two witnesses who were in the parking lot alerted casino security. CHARLES left the scene, but was later taken into custody.
CHARLES has four previous convictions related to domestic violence in either state or Tribal court. Two of these convictions arise from assaults in 2006 and 2014 on this same victim that were prosecuted in Clallam County District Court and Superior Court, respectively, and two convictions in Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal court for 2004 and 2010 assaults on this victim and another victim, respectively. Those convictions subject him to prosecution in federal court as a habitual offender.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Police. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rebecca S. Cohen and J. Tate London.